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NZ To Provide Assistance For Fiji Elections

New Zealand will provide assistance to Fiji to help ensure that its General Election in August takes place as scheduled in a free and fair manner, Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff said today.

The assistance will take the form of personnel and technical resources together with a contribution to meet some of the costs of the election process. The total package will amount to $700,000. This will be funded out of the existing Official Development Aid budget.

"It is essential that the election is properly conducted to ensure that Fiji once again has a constitutional government with a clear mandate from the people.

"Both Fiji and the international community need a process that guarantees that every Fijian regardless of race, colour or creed has the right to cast a free vote.

"This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of the May 19 coup. The coup and its after-effects have been disastrous for Fiji. For Fiji to recommence its economic development and to be welcomed back into the international community of nations, a fair and effective election process is crucial.

"The assistance from New Zealand, along with support from Australia and other countries will assist the Fiji Supervisor of Elections in ensuring that the election process is properly conducted. Election monitors from the international community may also be involved.

"I hope the August elections will provide a fresh start for Fiji and an outcome that all sections of the population will accept," said Mr Goff.

New Zealand will provide technical assistance including software for an election management package for Fiji's Office of the Supervisor of Elections. The New Zealand Electoral Office will provide expert advice to help operate the package.

New Zealand will also provide a consultant who is familiar with policy issues relating to the running of elections. The consultant and a staff member from the New Zealand Electoral Office will travel to Fiji next week.

ENDS

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